EA Sports Gets Lazier and Lazier
Written: Dec 2, 2004 (Updated Dec 2, 2004)
a Very Helpful Review
by the Epinions community
Pros:Beautiful graphics, minor additions, return of create player feature, soundtrack
Cons:awful controls, decent gameplay, no Korean national team
The Bottom Line: If you're a loyal FIFA Soccer fan or need a quick soccer fix, get it. If not, get Winning Eleven.
EA Sports comes out with the latest edition of their long-running and well known FIFA Soccer series. To continue their new tradition, they came back with 3 new cover boys which started with the '04 title. This year there's Oswaldo Sanchez of Club Deportivo (Chivas), Fernando Morientes in his Spain kit, and superstar Andrei Schevchenko of AC Milan.
As always the graphics are stunning. The more popular clubs and leagues will have players that bare an uncanny resemblance to their real-life counterparts. Things get a little bit more generic when you start playing lower division sides and less popular leagues which includes, yes, the MLS.
Of course as the graphics keep getting better and better, your hardware needs to be better and better. Running the game on my brand new Dell with a stock graphic card provides good graphics up close on replays. However from far away, you can spot little cosmetic touchups that might be needed. Whether it's like even with a powerful graphic card, I wouldn't know since I can't afford one. There's also lag during the games if you're running other programs simultaneously, so I'd close everything first if you plan on having a smooth run.
Nevertheless, the recommended system requirements to run FIFA Soccer 2005 is an OS of at least Win '98, CPU speed of 700 mhz, 128 MB of RAM; 256 for XP/2000, CD//DVD drive 8x or faster, 1.5 GB or more of free space on your hard drive, Directx 9.0b compatible for both video and sound. And since the game can be played online, a 56kpbs or faster connection is required although I wouldn't try it on anything less than a cable modem unless you want to get disconnected over and over again.
EA Sports, like many of their titles, have once again brought a great soundtrack to the game. There are many international artists from all over the world with some names such as Flogging Molly and Morrissey. Many bands come from Europe and are in their native tongue. You can also hear the rock sounds from English bands, to the pop sounds of Sweden, to the Salsa sounds of South America. You can also customize the new "juke box" feature which lets you choose which songs you want to play.
All the sounds in the game also make the game seem more real. The sounds feel authentic such as the thump of a pass to the boom of a well placed shot. The ball also sounds real whether it smashes against the net or against the post. Also are the sounds of the players. You can hear the players yelling commands to each other, and in different accents or languages, depending on what team you're playing. The acoustics are also very real. The sound of the crowd is louder in the 100,000 seat Nou Camp in Barcelona while you here a more intimate crowd while playing in a Division Two stadium. One dissapointing thing though are the chants. Seems as if they've cut some out this time. While the more popular ones are there, such as the Anfield crowd singing "You'll Never Walk Alone" for Liverpool, I've noticed there are less chants for each team. Still, the crowds react the appropriate ways for a goal scored (either for your team or against your team) and hard fouls which could have been booked.
John Motson and Ally McCoist also return to the commentary booth. It seems as if they've re-done all the same lines as last year's title, only they sound as if they went to the local pub first. I don't know whether they did this for effect, but Ally McCoist often stutters his lines. There are also some peculiar moments when John Motson gives out a shriek on a close play. I often find myself laughing at this one. And with most games, the commentary gets to be repetitive, although I've found myself hearing some new lines at later points in the season.
Loading up the game takes little time. Once you get to the start-up screen you can choose from a variety of options. You can play an exhibition match, allowing you to choose any team in any of the leagues available. As usual, EA Sports is the tops when it comes to depth. Available to you are 18 leagues, 38 national teams, and 11,000 players. Newly added is the Mexican League.
The menus are easier to navigate this year. Right before you are the options which scroll smoothly back and forth. Like last year's title, you can customize your team roster as well as your set pieces which you wish to play with. You can also change who you want taking your free kicks, corners, and penalties as well as changing your captain. Would have been nice to have a second captain option in case you sub your current captain during a game. Minor gripe though.
The career mode lets you go on a 15 year journey as a manager. What's nice about the career mode for '05 is that you can't choose any club you want right away. You have to work and get your status up before the big names like Arsenal and FC Barcelona will become available to you. I thought that was a nice touch and after 2 seasons as league champions and 5 cup victories, I still can't get Arsenal to offer me a contract.
As manager, you can also make team upgrades. This is different than '04 where you choose individuals for extra training to improve a skill such as heading or passing as well as group training. For '05 you can upgrade your team by winning points after a match. When you have points, you can designate them to an area you wish to improve such as your forwards, midfielders, defense, and goalkeeping. Instead of choosing individuals or the whole team, each player will be upgraded based on where you designate the points and what position they play. You can also upgrade your fitness so that your players will recover quicker from tiredness as well as your medical staff for quicker recoveries from injury. Also avialable to upgrade is your finance department so you can get more money on transfers or pay less for new talent. Last there's the scouting department so that you can see more of their skill levels. A lot of playing will need to be done though as points won't make a difference after a game. The career mode was meant to go for 15 seasons so be patient!
Depending on your performance as manager, you have the option to leave the club after the season and go somewhere else, that is unless the board of directors gets rid of you first!
The training mode returns and has no changes that I can see from last year's title. You can play a scrimmage match with a customizable number of players, as well as work on your set pieces.
One feature they brought back was the Create Player. You can now create your very own future superstar. The face customization is indepth letting you change anything from hair style and color to the size of the nose bridge. Want a long horse looking face like Ruud Van Nistelrooy? You make it happen. You can also add accessories like sports tape and necklaces. The options there are a little light but the face will keep you busy long enough.
However the newest feature, and possibly the most important, is the "First Touch" controls. A flick of the right analog stick will send your player in that direction or cause them to pull off a crossover like Cristiano Ronaldo. This is where things get interesting, and you can see where EA Sports' indepth rosters pay off. A player like Thierry Henry will do a crossover or other trick with ease. Joey Franchino of the New England Revolution? Not so much. Your chances of fooling a player and running right past him are better with a more skilled player. However, the First Touch does help greatly when trying to protect the ball and making quick cuts. It's too bad that the instruction booklet doesn't go indepth on what tricks you can do as I've pulled off fancier moves than I've wanted without intending to. Luckily that's why there's a practice mode.
Unfortunately, this neither of the above have helped the gameplay. While the game is an improvement over the mediocre '04 title, the controls are still a bit too loose. Trying to turn your back on a player with the ball is a chore and will most likely get you knocked off the ball. Trying to control your defenders is even worse, especially when the computer is on the attack. At times you feel as if you're not even controlling the players and get frustrated easily. EA doesn't seem to realize that this is a recurring problem in their game.
Another problem is that animations often lock-up. When receiving the ball, sometimes you'll just run straight through before making a turn. This often takes you out of bounds or right into a defender. Trying to take corner kicks are also a bit tricky. The loose controls make it very hard to run into the spot where the ball is going to land. Either that or the controls don't obey and you end up walking to the spot where the defender promptly pushes you off.
While I do enjoy playing FIFA Soccer 2005, I can't help but think that EA Sports is avoiding the main problems. While the game has all the little details down, they seem to be more concerned about putting out a good looking product rather than a practical one. Sure it's nice to be able to see real league patches on jerseys and to be covered in the shadows from the rafters high above the San Siro, but what does all that matter when you can't get your player to run in a straight line every single time instead of looking like an Olympic skier doing the slalom event? Plus the new addition of the IGM (in-game management) is a joke. It allows you to change your offensive style and defensive style during a match instead of just pausing, going into tactics and changing it yourself. Plus when you do change this, your players often end up out of position for some reason or another.
There's a reason why Winning Eleven, the fantastic soccer series by Konami, is growing in popularity. They are the full package. They have more options available then you can even imagine if you're a life-long FIFA Soccer player. Konami might not have licenses to all the leagues, fancy soundtrack, or even the amazing graphics like EA Sports does, but they do have the most important thing down: gameplay.
If you're a casual soccer fan who doesn't want to be bothered by the detailed amounts of planning and stategizing like Winning Eleven offers, FIFA Soccer 2005 is your game. If you're a loyal FIFA player as well, you'll probably even be somewhat impressed by the minor improvements for this year's title. However, if you love every aspect of The Beautiful Game and want to play a game so in-depth in strategy and flawless gameplay, try Winning Eleven by Konami. You'll never want to play FIFA Soccer again. I was once a loyal follower, but now, I just can't. I'm tired of getting a rehashed game with the only focus being on graphics. I want a game with flawless gameplay. I want a game with precise controls. I want.....Winning Eleven.
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